Thursday, February 21, 2013

Sharing Information on the High Seas: Old School and New School

Social media has taken the world by storm.  Nowadays, if it hasn't been Tweeted, Facebooked or YouTubed, it pretty much hasn't happened.  Information is shared faster than ever and news bytes of 140 characters or less are forcing print publications to stop the presses because they simply cannot keep up.  By the time the ink is on the paper, it's old news.  The flow of information today is incredible and, for better or worse, it's not going away.

Take us for instance, we're in the business of sharing information too.  Most of you know we have an online footprint that goes beyond this blog which includes Twitter and Facebook, two of the more prominent social media platforms and the two we happen to update the most.  In order to keep you informed (or entertained, or annoyed, or whatever) we have relied on internet.  Now that we are sailing, however, we cannot rely on wifi wherever we go - particularly at sea.  So how do we keep up our outbound flow of information?

This is where the "old school" single sideband radio (SSB) comes in.  

While I am completely oversimplifying, SSB is a long-range radio.  It can transmit way further than your VHF and - turns out - has a lot more functionality as well. 

I would say about half of the cruisers we met have it, the other half do not.  Many people find SSB totally outdated and unnecessary, a relic from the past that has simply withstood the test of time because nothing has really come onto the scene to completely replace it.  Others believe it to be a cruising necessity.  Like Twitter and Facebook, it's primary purpose is to share information and is used mostly for collecting weather data (though there are other ways) and/or participating in cruiser's nets when crossing oceans as a way to keep an eye on one another.

But there is so much more the SSB can do.  With our SSB setup we can:
...and yes, we have done all three.

"What does this have to do with Facebook and Twitter" you ask?  Well, we can update those with our SSB too*.  Heck, we can even upload entire blog posts (minus photos) by simply sending an email to our blogger account.  In short: because of our old school SSB, you will never be rid of us.  Our dispatches know no bounds (dun, dun, dun!).

While the technology of the SSB might be a little archaic, we believe it still has it's place in the ever changing world of information sharing.  Sure, it's slower than dial up and makes a heck of a lot of noise when it's connecting - but if we're out sailing in the middle of nowhere and get a hankering to Tweet, we can.  And while it might be the slowest uploaded Tweet you ever saw, it will still be a Tweet.

*Just Google how to update Twitter and Facebook via email for tons of resources on how to do this. 


Marcus Valdes said...

I need one of those "distress" buttons on your radio for my job! Another great post....

Mike said...

ain't innovation grand! who would have thunk you could have your ipad listen to the ssb and display the grib on its screen. I think if you use the Delorme product you can 2 way text message.

JP said...

On the ARC the SSB was great for swapping cake recipes!

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